Member of Victoria Parliament and served as Minister for Health (2010-2014)
"I am a Hep Hero because I believe we need to think more broadly about testing, treatment and support."
Hepatitis affects 2 in every 100 Australians. As the number of people affected increases so do the health challenges we face.
I am a Hepatitis Hero because I believe we need to think more broadly about testing, treatment and support. There are many complexities that require new models of care to improve access for vulnerable communities.
The first step is to raise awareness to ensure those most at risk have the information and support they need.
As the Minister for Health it is my role to oversee health care services through the public hospital system and community health services, as well as support health promotion and protection.
A particular concern for me is the rising number of people living with and affected by hepatitis. In Australia around 207,000 people are living with hepatitis B and 230,000 people living with hepatitis C, together this represents almost 2% of the population.
Closer to home, around 55,000 Victorians living with chronic hepatitis B and 65,000 are living with hepatitis C. Only 2% of those affected access treatment.
These statistics are very concerning and existing public health messages around blood borne virus are not getting through to some groups.
The chronic nature of the virus, our ageing population and low treatment rates will in turn mean the number of people living with hepatitis related cirrhosis and liver disease will continue to increase as will the need for transplants.
The good news is there is a lot we can do to increase access to information, testing and care and reach those communities most at risk.
By standing together and raising awareness we can all make a difference.